27. 6. 2014

Turmoil in Egypt: a Proxy Cold War among the Gulf States?


The Arab states of the Persian Gulf have played a huge role in the unfolding developments of the Arab Spring, especially in Egypt. Based on many pieces of evidence, we can set up an analytical framework for investigating the transformations of Egyptian politics between 2011 and 2013, according to which the turmoil was basically a proxy cold war fought by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait on one hand, and Qatar on the other. Although the Gulf agreement signed in April 2014 clearly shows the inevitability of the defeat of Qatar, Doha will remain an important player in the region, while the rebound of the Muslim Brotherhood is now unimaginable without the support of the tiny country.

Almost every narrative which is used by analysts and journalists to describe and typify the unfolding process in Egypt holds a common element: they see the events as clear evidence of the continuous decrease of American influence in the country and in the broader region as well. It is obvious that the U.S. is not among those countries which roll the dices in the North African country: Washington lacks a clear strategy and the necessary means to shape the ongoing events in Egypt. But if the world’s number one economic and military power is currently not among those which determine the future of Egypt, then which ones are? Which countries have the greatest leverage over the events? What kind of external rivalry sets the agenda in Egypt?